By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
Bishop’s University’s (BU) new Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, will be officially installed at a ceremony on campus Sept. 22. The Record spoke with Lebel-Grenier over the phone to talk all things BU.
“I was born in Quebec City,” he began, and grew up in the Manicouagan region of the province of Quebec. Since then, he has lived in Chibougamau and McMasterville. He studied first in Ottawa, then France, then completed his PhD in Montreal. He has lived in Sherbrooke now for 26 years. “I’m kind of a Townshipper,” he said with a chuckle, “well, my wife is.”
Most of his professional career was at the University of Sherbrooke (UdeS). Previously, he worked as a lawyer at a big law firm in Montreal. After becoming a professor, he started teaching at UdeS in 2001.
“It’s been amazing,” he said, referring to the welcome the BU community has extended him. They were curious and wanted to get to know him better, he added. He feels very supported, both by the “external” (alumni, local politicians) and “internal” (faculty, students, staff) community. Everyone has been very forthcoming with information and their thoughts as to BU’s potential.
“[BU]’s strength lies in its identity,” he explained. It is a small community, a bit under 2,700 students, and they plan on growing that to 3,000, but no more. Lebel-Grenier thinks BU can support 3,000 students with its existing infrastructure. The challenge, he insisted, is to “grow residences”. Residences are not government funded, but self-funded.
The smaller size allows for everyone to be close-knit and an “incredible” experience for the students. BU follows a “liberal education model”. Students are encouraged to look into fields of knowledge they are not familiar with. For instance, business students can investigate fine arts and “see how these worlds merge”.